Fest Traveler: Stockholm Intl. Film Festival

The Stockholm Intl. Film Festival has always promoted Swedish talent, but the 22nd edition is taking that into a new dimension with the launch of its own production fund for women directors.

The fest, which takes place Nov. 9-20, will award $750,000 to a young female filmmaker to shoot a feature that will premiere at the 2012 event.

The funding comes from Swedish telecom giant Telia and the Swedish Film Institute, with NonStop Entertainment handling distribution.

The SFI has a radical mandate to award at least 40% of its production funding to female directors, writers and producers, but a shortage of women applicants has made it difficult to reach that target.

“When we suggested this, (the SFI) were keen to grab it,” explains SIFF director Git Scheynius. “A small country like Sweden cannot afford to ignore half the population when we make films.”

The fest received 32 applicants by the September deadline, a mix of newcomers and recently established names such as Lisa Aschan, whose debut “She Monkeys” has been acclaimed at festivals around the world this year.

The winner will be announced No. 19. The runners-up will also get $38,000 from the SFI to help with the development of their next projects.

Scheynius describes the fund as a “very exciting” progression from the fest’s long-established 1 km Film scholarship, a $15,000 prize for the best short film, which has helped to launch the careers of several Swedish directors.

One previous winner, Babek Najafi, is back this year with an unfinished cut of his second feature, “Easy Money 2,” the highly anticipated sequel to the hit 2010 crime thriller.

This year’s lineup gives a greater than usual prominence to Swedish and Scandinavian talent, starting with the opening night gala for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” the first English-language feature by Swedish helmer Tomas Alfredson.

The fest includes three world premieres of Swedish films — Levan Akin’s social drama “Certain People” in competition, plus Staffan Lindberg’s comedy “Once Upon a Time in Phuket” and Kjell-Ake Andersson’s smalltown drama “Somewhere Else.”

Scheynius notes an unusually large “concentration of Nordic talent” in the main competition, whose 22 titles include Ruben Ostlund’s “Play” from Sweden, and Joachim Trier’s “Oslo, August 31″ and Jannike Systad Jacobsen’s “Turn Me on, Dammit” from Norway. Danish helmer Nicholas Winding Refn’s American thriller “Drive” also screens out of competition.

“When I saw ‘Oslo,’ ‘Play’ and ‘Drive’ within two days at Cannes, I thought this is a really new way of making films for Scandinavia. We have more interesting and brave directors than we had before,” she says. “The standard of Swedish and Scandinavian films has definitely risen in recent years. We wouldn’t put them in competition if they weren’t as good as everything else.”

HIGHLIGHTS
The 22nd SIFF will screen 170 films from 44 countries, of which 31% is by debut directors, 26% by femme helmers and 43% with female producers.

FESTIVAL OPENER:The festival opens with “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” directed by local hero Tomas Alfredson, and closes with Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I’m In.” The mid-gala is Andrea Arnold ‘s competition entry “Wuthering Heights.”

AWARD WINNERS: French actress Isabelle Huppert will receive the lifetime achievement award. Mexican writer-director Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu will receive the Visionary Award and hold a masterclass. Cinematographer Christopher Doyle and Danish producer Peter Aalbeck Jensen will also give masterclasses. Whit Stillman is serving as jury chair, with his latest film “Damsels in Distress” screening out of competition.

SCREENINGS:The 22-film competition includes Steve McQueen ‘s “Shame,” Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Julia Leigh’s “Sleeping Beauty,” Miranda July’s “The Future,” Iranian helmer Maryam Keshavarz’s “Circumstances” and “Coriolanus” by Ralph Fiennes. Out-of-competition screenings include David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” with Viggo Mortensen set to attend, Gus Van Sant ‘s “Restless,” Luc Besson ‘ s “The Lady” and Paolo Sorrentino’s “This Must Be the Place.”

STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
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